Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Beginnings - 09/30/11

This meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages
How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be here at A Few More Pages every Friday.

First Lines...  "Like most people, I have secrets."
My thoughts... I can't wait to hear about them!

From This Moment On by Shania Twain

Library Loot - 09/25/11

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

I am one of those library types who always, always takes too many books and can never finish them all before they are due...even with 2 renewal periods!  So, my list changes often...and books go back unread sometimes.
Currently, I have the following library loot on hand:

New Loot:Coraline / Neil Gaiman.
Salvage the bones : a novel / Jesmyn Ward.
Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson.
Losing my faculties : a teacher's story / Brendan Halpin.
Daughters of the revolution : a novel / Carolyn Cooke.
Mosaic : pieces of my life so far / Amy Grant.
Loretta Lynn : Coal miner's daughter / Loretta Lynn, with George Vecsey.

Leftover Loot:
A race like no other : 26.2 miles through the streets of New York / Liz Robbins.
Travels with Charley : in search of America / John Steinbeck.
Tiger, tiger / Margaux Fragoso.
Up in the air / Walter Kirn.
The hour I first believed : a novel / Wally Lamb.
Don't kill the birthday girl : tales from an allergic life / Sandra Beasley.
Three cups of tea : one man's mission to fight terrorism and build nations... one school at a time.
The box: uncanny stories / Richard Matheson.
The diving bell and the butterfly : a memoir of life in death / Jean-Dominique Bauby.
A date with death / Michele R. McPhee.
Long drive home : a novel / Will Allison.
Witch-hunt : mysteries of the Salem witch trials / Marc Aronson.
My teenage werewolf : a mother, a daughter, a journey through the thicket of adolescence.
Inconceivable : a medical mistake, the baby we couldn't keep, and our choice to deliver the ultimate
Little princes : one man's promise to bring home the lost children of Nepal / Conor Grennan.
Bringing Adam home : the abduction that changed America / Les Standiford with Detective Sergeant Joe
Diabetes A to Z : what you need to know about diabetes, simply put.
Knowing Jesse : a mother's story of grief, grace, and everyday bliss / Marianne Leone.
Dewey's nine lives : the legacy of the small-town library cat who inspired millions / Vicki Myron.
From this moment on / Shania Twain.
Inside scientology : the story of America's most secretive religion / Janet Reitman.

Which books did I decided to read next? You'll have to check out my blog at Shannon's Book Bag and see!

FIR '11: #1 - 09/28/11

Fall Into Reading Challenge is hosted by Callapidder Days. Each Wednesday, she will post a different question.

This week's question:

How much do book reviews influence your decision to acquire and/or read a book?

A good cover, or bad one, can make or break whether I add a book to my TBR list or basket of library books. But a review can very often affect whether I will read a book. If I am attracted to a cover, as I scroll/read through my Google Reader, I will often take the time to read the review. If it sounds like I won't like it, or if the reader really disliked it, I will often just skip it and not add it to my list. There are way to many books out there to waste time on books that other bloggers disliked, especially because I often follow bloggers/reviewers because their interests are similar to mine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - 09/27/11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My Teasers:

"While I was growing up, my mother used to frequently tell me the story of my turbulent, dramatic entrance into the world - the worst of her four deliveries, she always said. Looking back, sometimes I can't help but think to myself, So that's what happened to me. Ha! It explains a lot."

From This Moment On (Shania Twain) pg. 2.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday - 09/26/11

Sheila at Book Journey hosts this weekly event where we celebrate what we are reading for the week, as well as books completed the previous week.

Currently Reading:
From This Moment On (Shania Twain)
Math for Grownups (Laura Laing)

 Just Finished:
Travels with Charley (John Steinbeck)

On Deck (in no particular order...):
Knowing Jesse (Marianne Leone)
The Box (Richard Matheson)
Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)
Losing My Faculties (Bendan Halpin)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Travels with Charley - Steinbeck

How does one do a classic like this book due justice?!

In Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck sets out to explore the United States with just his faithful companion pddle, Charley.  It is the early 1960's and the country he knows, for good and for bad, is changing. 

From his home in New York state, across the northern states, down through California and across the southern states, then up through West Virginia to home, he travels meeting new people, discovering new wonders and visiting old haunts and old friends.

Through his journey, he has made notes on his country and the world as he experiences it. Every page is filled with valuable and timely comments about change, about social issues, and about growing older in America. Whether labor issues in the north or civil rights in the south, he has much to say that will make all readers stop and think.

I really liked this book, though I found myself having to stop sometimes and go back to reread sections. Being used to more contemporary writing, such in depth and thought provoking writing challenged me. But it was really nice to be challenged.  Honestly, I look forward to reading this book again.  I am sure I will find something new every time I read it!

5/5- Excellent. Keep it, treasure it, reread it.

more reviews at:
Becky's Book Reviews
The Umblog

Swamplandia - Russell

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is the story of the eccentric Bigtree family, narrated by twelve-year old Ava, who own a tourist attraction in the Florida everglades called Swamplandia! which offers alligator wrestling performances, a Bigtree family museum made up of the family "artifacts" (read trash) and well, not much more except mosquitoes. 

Except the attraction seems to be gone...  As are the customers.  As is Ava's mother, who has recently died of cancer.  And Ava's dad, who goes on a business trip to find work. And Ava's brother, Kiwi, who goes to the family's new competitor to find work (in the hopes of sending money home to save the park, of course). Oh, and did I mention that Ava's sister Ossie is missing too? She's run off with a ghost, yes you read that right - a ghost - (as she has suddenly become psychic by reading a book) to get married in the "underworld". 

What follows is the story of a girl, and her family, trying to deal with the loss of a loved one (as well as some other surprising horrors) while growing up and finding her way in this world that she, having grown up on a secluded island, doesn't really understand.

My opinion? It wasn't a bad book. It was fairly well written... But if I start my comments that way, you know there's not much more! I just...didn't get it. The book dragged...and dragged...and Ava travels through the everglades with some random guy who visits her island (again, she's been secluded her whole life) in search of her sister and as Kiwi (the brother) tries to grow up and prove himself.  Yawn! 

Then, there is an attempt at the end of the book to add something shocking and horrific. I will avoid giving too much info, don't want to spoil it for anyone. But, again, yawn. Too little, too late.

All in all. I'd skip this one.

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.

Sunday Salon - 09/25/11

It's been a good week.

I'm feeling better everyday, foot-wise, though the physical therapist is sending me back to the doctor as I still have some pain. I expect him to say I'm fine and should keep up with the PT, which would be great. I could definitely use some more guidance in getting my leg strength and knee/ankle joint flexibility back.

Very exciting, I got my first opportunity to wander my new town's library this week! I have been there a bunch of times, but only hit up the "new reads" shelves on the ground level. But, with the increased flexibility and strength...and lack of a fiance following me around...I went exploring. They have terrific kids and teens areas, on the basement level, which make me wish I was young again (libraries were definitely not this cool when I was young...except to book-geeks like me!). They have a pretty thorough fiction area down there as well. And, my favorite, they have an extensive non-fiction (bios, memoirs, etc.) area on the 2nd floor.

Of course, the first place I headed was the education area. I really enjoy reading about teaching and teacher's, having had such a horrific experience myself. I like being reminded why its such a great profession. Then, I hit the music/arts memoir section, followed by  general biographies.  I could spent hours on that level alone! I look forward to spending more time there soon.

Work continues to be super busy, but the season is in full swing and things are beginning to normalize some.

And this weekend, my theater was one of the host locations for the 18th annual Jamaica Plain Open Studios artist event. It was a great event, with lots of foot traffic despite the threat of rain.  And, we sold several more memberships to the theater!  I am very proud of how my membership drive is moving along...

Last season's ending membership total (in June): ~234
This year's total, so far (September): ~230


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - 09/20/11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:
"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." pg.3

"In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." pg. 4

Travels with Charley (John Steinbeck)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday - 09/19/11

Sheila at Book Journey hosts this weekly event where we celebrate what we are reading for the week, as well as books completed the previous week.

Currently Reading:
Travels with Charley (John Steinbeck)
Math for Grownups (Laura Laing)

 Just Finished:
Swamplandia (Karen Russell)

On Deck:

From This Moment On (Shania Twain)

Sunday Salon - 09/18/11

Busy as usual... Between work, theater activities, a Capella rehearsals and the never-ending flow of work needed on our new house, its been a non-stop week!

Spent much of Saturday at a friend's brother's funeral, and was at the theater Saturday night as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern opened this weekend. Found out there was some trouble with my theater's email, so though I didn't sell any memberships at the show I had four orders waiting for me, which was very nice!

Sunday was back to business (cleaning, laundry), though little got done on the house's never-ending list of fixes because Dave had other errands to do.  But, we did sign a contract to have the roof replaced within the next couple of weeks, which is a relief! 

We're getting there...step by little, though expensive, step.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays - 09/13/11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  

My Teasers:

"Four times a week, our mother climbed the ladder above the Gater Pit in a green two-piece bathing suit and stood on the edge of the diving board, breathing." pg. 3.

"Dear Ava,
I am eloping with Louis. That means that we are going to the underworld to get married... I will see you maybe. -Ossie.

All I could think was: Her spelling is perfect." pg. 134-135

Swamplandia (Karen Russell)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stories I Only Tell My Friends - Lowe

As a teen of the 80's, I was a big fan of Rob Lowe and the other "Brat Packers". I did not begrudge them their fame and success, and alleged craziness, I envied it!  So I was very interested in hearing what Rob Lowe had to say in his book Stories I Only Tell My Friends.

A somewhat normal and boring childhood in Ohio was not what I expected.  Nor was a typical childhood passion for the arts and theater.  But that is what I got.

According to Lowe, after his parent's divorce, his mother moved him and his brother Chad to Malibu, CA. where interestingly, he states, the west coast had little to offer in regard to community theater at that time.  So in order to act he was forced to turn to movies and television.  And, with little help from his seemingly mentally ill mother, he secures various opportunities for himself until he lands a large role, which is ultimately cut to a small role, in a little movie called The Outsiders.

Most of us now know that movie was the birth of a new movement of teen focused movies in Hollywood, and the growth of a group of actors who were young, talented, professional, and bound for success.  What you may not know is the story behind the moniker "Brat Packer" and how the title was not necessarily a welcomed addition to the careers of actors who were in the right (wrong?) place at the right time.

Lowe shares his many experiences in the business since his initial breakout performance and surprisingly, it has not been all fun and games. He is almost surprised when he is offered his role on The West Wing, but does not seem surprised when his role is discontinued as he is the only cast member who is not offered a juicy raise and bonus.  However, the biggest surprise of Lowe's life seems to be his luck in finding his beautiful wife Sheryl and the joy and fulfillment he finds in being a father.

Lowe avoids telling dirty stories, or addressing rumors (except those relating to himself), which left me respecting him even more.  Overall, the writing is surprisingly good, the stories are great and I have gained a new level of respect for Rob Lowe that before.  Definitely worth the read!

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.

Dreaming Out Loud - Feiler

I happen to be a big country music fan. Though I prefer the "newer face" of music, I also enjoy some of the classics.  But I am a huge fan of Garth Brooks, whose country music heyday was really throughout the 90's and into the 00's (though I keep hoping for a comeback). So Bruce Feiler's Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes, And The Changing Face Of Nashville caught my eye for obvious reasons.

Now, Bruce Feiler is a good writer. I also ready his The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me, which was a great book.  He is a born and bred southerner, which I did not know, and had some experience with country music...though he admits his interests are more rock based.  So, I was very interested in what he had to say about Garth Brooks.  Turns out, quite a bit...

In Dreaming Out Loud Feiler offers a great review, without getting bogged down or boring, of the birth and growth of country music interspersed with hands on experiences with Garth, as well as Wynonna (Judd) and Wade Hayes (a lesser known name).  He talks about all facets of the music industry, from being discovered to recording to huge grand arena performances.  He discusses the Grand Ole Opry and its place in country music today, as well as the recent explosion and changing face of country music (think Minnie Pearl vs. Willie Nelson vs. Garth Brooks/Tim McGraw).  I learned a lot from this book, even as a fan, while feeling that I was right there discovering the intracasies of the business with him.

Even if you are not a fan of country music, this book is a great read and gives you a look at a true piece of Americana!

Interestingly, Feiler does not seem to be a Garth fan.  Though he considers Brooks a fantastic business man, which he admittedly is, Feiler seems to consider him pushy and overconfident... conceited perhaps, though he doesn't use that term. I find it interesting that another artist, who is non-country based but is just as pushy, wouldn't be considered conceited just intelligent and business savy.  Its like people expect country artists to be "good ole boys" who drive tractors and can't add, being a good business person and expecting the most from your career seems almost wrong.

And that, I think, is the changing face of country music! As new artists come along and country music continues to evolve, so will the business of country music...and pioneers like Garth Brooks are responsible for that! 

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.

September 11, 2011

Image courtesy of

Greetings all,

I hope everyone had a chance yesterday - September 11, 2011 - to reflect, to remember and to grieve. 

I read a Facebook post yesterday about remaining silent, to show respect for those lost. There is definitely value in that. But I also couldn't help but think...that's just what the terrorists want! They want us to be scared...and unsure...and silent.  Maybe if everyone hadn't been so *damn* silent in 2001, it could have been prevented!

I feel like its time to take back our voice and to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

Ten years later, while the pain never totally goes away and we will always remember...its time to start over! Be reborn, refocus, and move toward the future with hope!

Reborn...and moving forward!

Yes, I am reborn! I have changed the look of my site and am refocusing on blogging and sharing my love of books.

My foot is finally healed and I am walking, without crutches or cane (though slowly, because the muscle loss was considerable and I am still building strength). My membership drive with my theater is well under way and over 200 packets have been mailed! My a Capella group, Purely Vocals, is busy at work prepping for a performance this fall, a couple others which are in the works, and are already booking next year with quite a few gigs!  We are excited about the chance to perform more and are learning new music every day.  And school just started and work is busy, busy, busy!

So...generally speaking, all of my previous chaos has been replaced by new and exciting chaos!

But through it all, I have kept reading and now have a bunch of books to review which I am very excited to tell you about!

So, with no further drama...